On June 20, 2012, the U.S. Senate failed to pass by a vote of 53-46 Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) resolution (S.J. Res. 37) to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Utility MACT rule, according to the National Mining Association (NMA). Inhofe and other critics say the rule, forcing cuts in air toxics and separate regulations on smog-forming pollutants, would raise power costs, harm the economy and cost jobs by leading to the closure of substantial numbers of coal-based power plants.
“Today’s regrettable vote locks in higher electricity rates for consumers and businesses for the foreseeable future,” NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn said in a statement following the vote. “It’s unfortunate that a number of senators from states whose economies rely on affordable, coal-based electricity could not see their way to supporting their communities and the nation’s economic growth at a time when the need is greatest.”
“Our fight is not over,” said Sen. Inhofe in a statement following the vote. “We will continue to do everything possible to expose what the Obama-EPA’s damaging regulatory regime will do to destroy jobs and weaken our economy, and work every day in our efforts to stop President Obama’s war on oil, gas and coal.”
NMA led an extensive advocacy campaign to support Inhofe’s measure through grassroots activities, earned media and paid advertisements in key states. Other organizations, including the United Mine Workers of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, among others, also supported the bill.
The White House, in a Statement of Administration Policy, threatened to veto the bill had it passed the Senate and the House. Five Democrats and five Republican senators crossed party lines for the vote, with Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Jim Webb (Va.) voting for the measure, and Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) voting against Inhofe’s proposal. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), recovering from a stroke suffered in January, did not vote.